The Destructive Nature of Gossip


Need Guard on Mouth as Gossip is Destructive
Gossip betrays people’s trust as information that should have been held confidential leaks out. It possibly ruins their reputation and harms relationships. In previous posts we considered how gossip can destroy the effectiveness of prayer chains. Due to the destructive nature of gossip, perhaps we should pray similar to the psalmist when he asked God, “Set a guard over my mouth, LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips.” (Ps. 141:3).

General Principles About Our Communication To Apply to Our Temptation to Gossip

Since “the tongue has the power of life and death” (Prov. 18:21), we need a biblical handle on the seriousness of gossip. Begin with broad guidance about our communication.

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. (Ps. 19:14)

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (Eph. 4:29)

Put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. (Eph. 4:24-25)

Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. (2 Tim. 2:16)

When tempted to gossip, let’s go back to these verses and ask if what we’re about to share is pleasing in God’s sight, helpful for building others up, righteous and holy. Or, does it fit under the category of unwholesome talk, falsehood, or godless chatter?

A Biblical View of the Destructiveness of Gossiping

Now look at how God gets specific about gossip:

  • Gossip is a cancerous condition, eating away at us from the inside out. “The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man’s inmost parts.” (Prov. 18:8)
  • Gossip is a break in integrity. “A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret.” (Prov. 11:13)
  • Gossip is a symptom of a depraved mind out of fellowship with God (Rom. 1:28-32). When we gossip, we are giving in to the old sin nature.
  • Gossip is a divisive activity. “A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends.” (Prov. 16:28) — However, “Without wood a fire goes out; without a gossip a quarrel dies down” (Prov. 26:20). Let’s not fuel the fire but rather “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3).
  • Gossip is a violation of love. When we gossip it’s like we’re secretly slandering a person. This is not the loving thing to do for “love does no harm to its neighbor” (Rom. 13:10).
  • Gossip is a tool in the devil’s hand. Gossip follows after the ways of Satan who is called an “accuser of the brethren” (Rev. 12:10). The word “devil” means prone to slander, slanderous. Remember the warning in Ephesians 4:27, “Do not give the devil a foothold.”

May these truths challenge us all to pray, “Set a guard over my mouth, LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips.” (Ps. 141:3)


We Need More Than Relevancy


Jesus, God Himself, Became Relevant Being Made in Human Likeness
Jesus’ incarnation shows the importance of meeting people where they are, so being relevant is important. Adapting to where people are tends to make a difference in their receptivity to the Gospel and their ability to understand and learn (1 Cor. 9:19-22). But, how far do we take it? Relevancy alone won’t bring eternal results.

What’s Needed More Than Relevancy

Jesus does set the example for us, which the Apostle Paul followed as seen when He wrote, “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.” (1 Cor. 9:22). Yet, Jesus Himself said, “Apart from Me you can do nothing.” (Jn. 15:5). And, throughout his epistles, the Apostle Paul repeatedly acknowledged the need of divine power for anything of significance to happen in ministry (1 Cor. 3:6-7). No matter what words or strategies we use, people aren’t going to truly understand and accept truth without the Spirit of God at work (1 Cor. 2:11-14). Consequently, more than relevancy, we need God’s power. Seek to be relevant but don’t rely on that.

Relevancy does tend to help people in their understanding and motivation. Yet, if we aren’t careful, it can also be seen as a manipulative tool. Are we just doing certain things to pull people in or because we truly care enough to meet them where they are? God clearly states that we can do a lot of good things for the wrong reasons. Our words become like “resounding gong or a clanging cymbal” without love. No matter what we do, we “gain nothing” of eternal value if we do not have love. Read 1 Corinthians 13:1-3. Consequently, more than relevancy, we need to be real in our love for people. Seek to be relevant but for the right reasons.

Relevancy does tend to grab people’s attention. Using what interests them makes it seem more palatable. Yet, we must guard against letting a need to be relevant turn into a quest to gain people’s approval. When that happens, we too easily can slip into compromise. It chips away at our integrity as we become more and more about pleasing people than pleasing God (Gal. 1:10; Col. 3:23-24; 1 Thess. 2:3-5). Consequently, more than relevancy we need a focus on God Himself. Seek to be relevant but keep God first and foremost.


How Can We as a Church be Relevant?


We already established in a previous post that being relevant as a Church, does not mean compromising who we are as Christians. Nor does it mean compromising truth. Certain realities do not change, like the eternal truth of Scripture based on who God is. We can, however, biblically find great flexibility in style, form, methodology, and structure, that can enable us to be relevant without watering down or violating God’s Word.

Ways the Church Can be Relevant without Compromising Truth

Relevancy cannot lead to changing the message. Our culture does not define truth but rather God does. Instead, we put the unadulterated truth of God’s Word in terms or language people can understand. It’s about adapting how we communicate, not what we communicate.

Jesus, God Himself, Became Relevant Being Made in Human LikenessJesus lived among people, talking their language, yet remained 100% God (Phil. 2:6-8).

Like Jesus, we can start by ministering to people’s physical or felt needs, never forgetting their greatest and most real need.

Like Jesus, we can use every day, familiar objects or illustrations to communicate truth.

By meeting people where they are, we’re showing them the connection between truth and their real life issues. Again, we’re not changing truth to fit them but rather showing how God and His ways already fit even their deepest needs.

This means Bible lessons and sermons aim for more than head knowledge. We seek to show the implications and application of truth to people’s lives. We tap into their age level characteristics and needs, to help meet them where they are. We get to know the people we serve so we can tailor our approach to them.

How We Can be Relevant in Different Aspects of Ministry

Relevancy needs to extend beyond how we connect with people to how we function as a Church. Here are just a few ways to consider:

  • We make programs relevant by structuring according to needs, not because “we’ve always done it that way”.
  • Presentations and meetings become more relevant when we employ current technology and creative methodology, and not merely do what’s comfortable for the leader.
  • Recruiting people for ministry becomes more relevant when we emphasize the worth of getting people involved, rather than simply filling a position
  • Training for ministry becomes more relevant when it gets tailored to people’s needs rather than simply applying a one-size-fits-all approach.

Should We Be Concerned about Relevancy in Ministry?


We hear a good bit about how the Church needs to be relevant in order to reach the world around us. Is relevancy something we should concern ourselves with as Christians? Perhaps the importance of being relevant in ministry depends on how we define it.

What It Means Biblically for the Church to be Relevant

Looking at synonyms for the word helps us see that being relevant is about making a connection for/with people that helps them see the significance and applicability of truth to their lives. Hence, we’re showing how pertinent or important and useful it is to them. To be relevant, then, somehow we must make a connection between where people are and where we want to take them or what we want to teach them.

We’re not talking about becoming so much like the world that people can’t distinguish between us. As followers of Jesus Christ, we’re called to be set apart — holy as He is holy (1 Pet. 1:15). We conform to Jesus, not to the world around us (Rom. 12:1-2). We remain “the pillar and foundation of truth” as the Church of the living God (1 Tim. 3:15).

Jesus, God Himself, Became Relevant Being Made in Human Likeness

Yet, being set apart doesn’t mean we’re aloof, untouchable, or superior. Think about Jesus, “who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness” (Phil. 2:6-7). He was even criticized for patronizing with sinners and tax collectors (Matt. 11:19). Surely His incarnation provides the greatest example of what it means to be relevant. He made that connection, showing people what God is like (Jn. 1:18) and how to be in a relationship with Him (Jn. 17:20-21).

The Importance of Relevancy in Ministry

Given Jesus’ example, being relevant is a matter of Christlikeness. The Apostle Paul, who stressed how He wanted to know Christ and become like Him in all things (Phil. 3:10), provides some key commentary about the importance of relevancy in ministry. He said, “Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.” He then went on to mention different people groups and how he adapted to them, concluding with, ” I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.” (1 Cor. 9:19-22)

The goal of making these connections with people is to affect their lives with the truth of the Gospel. Relevancy helps people better understand truth and see its importance which in turn motivates them to believe and appropriate it to their lives.

The questions we ask next will be:


Compelled by Love?


Compelled by the Love of Christ
Why do we do what we do as Christians? Certainly it shouldn’t be to earn favor with God since we began our relationship with God on the basis of grace (Eph. 2:8-9) and we continue our walk with Him by grace (Col. 2:6; Titus 2:11-12). Rather, Christ’s love should be that which compels us. He loves us so much that He took the punishment our sin deserves.

The more we “grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ” (Eph. 3:18), the more we’ll want to do that which aligns with Him. The more we’ll want to serve Him and others because of love, not out of duty.

For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that … he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them, and was raised again. (2 Cor. 5:14-15)

What happens when we’re compelled by His love?

The love of Christ compels us to love in return. I remember my very first public testimony as a 13 year old after giving my life to Jesus. I said, “I love Him because He first loved me.” I don’t think I was familiar with 1 John 4:19 then but I was able to make the connection. When love compels us, we are never too young to worship, expressing adoration to Him because He first loved us.

When we truly grasp the love of Christ, we no longer want to live for ourselves, taking advantage of the freedom we have in Him. Rather, we “serve one another humbly in love” (Gal. 5:13-14). No matter what position we might hold in ministry, serving is all because of what He did for us so there’s no room for pride and self-ambition.

We want others to experience His love as well. And so, we’re compelled to witness to those not yet in a relationship with Him because of His love. We’re also moved to build up fellow believers, praying that their “love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight” (Phil. 1:9). As Jesus told Peter, if we love Him, we’ll feed His sheep (Jn. 21:15-17).

In addition, when compelled by His love, we’ll not only give willingly and cheerfully (2 Cor. 9:7) of our financial resources and time, but also sacrificially. — “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (Jn. 15:13)

All that we do should be affected by and driven by His love.


What Kind of Bulletin Board Are You?


Remember those church bulletin boards? If not, perhaps it’s because they lacked appeal. Our lives as believers can have a similar effect. People may not even take note that we’re followers of Jesus. — God’s intent, however, is that our lives make people want to stop and investigate further. We authenticate the message when we reflect His light around us (Matt. 5:14-16).

The Kind of Bulletin Boards that Barely Gets Noticed

It’s easy to pass by bulletin boards that are cluttered or outdated.

1) Cluttered bulletin boards make it hard to tell what really matters.

When our lives are filled with so much busyness, stress, or dysfunction, it’s hard to identify what really matters in our lives.

  • What is most important, or central, in your life?
  • Can people see Christ in the midst of all the clutter?

2) Outdated bulletin boards, with images and content that rarely change, lose their relevancy.

When our lives and churches get stuck in ruts and we keep repeating what we’ve always done even it it doesn’t work, it’s hard to imagine that being a Christian makes a difference.

  • What is Jesus doing in your life today?
  • Can people see the difference He makes in your life?

Just as it is easy for people to pass by these kinds of bulletin boards and barely notice their existence, so people might dismiss our lives in Christ if we live similarly.

What Makes People Stop and Want to Investigate

A document for Bible Teachers, Make Bulletin Boards Super, provides a number of tips for designing bulletin boards that have a greater potential of getting noticed. The following suggestions have parallels to our lives:

1) Have a central theme.

What a difference it makes when everything we do is because of, for, according to, and through the Lord, to show love to Him and bring glory to His name.

  • Does your life reflect Jesus in all you say and do? (Matt. 5:14-16)

2) Keep changing.

When people see the transformation Jesus makes in us, they can’t help but notice. They will be drawn to Christ in us. Our lives will make the message look attractive (Titus 2:10).

  • Are you yielding to the Spirit so you’re becoming more and more Christ-like? (Gal. 5:13-26)